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Cascades Better than the Sierra?

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Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby SKI » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:35 am

So, I just recently moved from Reno, NV to the Pac Northwest.

I've climbed a respectable amount in the Sierras
Image

And I'm putting up some good numbers in the Washington Cascades
Image


And I'll tell you what...

I am getting WHALLOPED up here on these tiny little Cascade peaks!

*The approaches are ALL burly
*There's almost ALWAYS some kind of glacier travel involved
*The objective hazards are constant. I feel queued up ALL the time.
*Descents are always, alwayyyys a complicated and prolonged affair.

It's such a move up from what I have encountered in the Sierras, I no longer know what to think!

If the Sierras made me a better climber (the granite is glorious!!!), then they surely made me a weaker mountaineer/alpinist.

I was spoiled by good weather!
I was spoiled by tailor-made route finding!
I was spoiled by easy approaches!

Are the Cascades a step up from the Sierras?

I feel that they are...



Thoughts?
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby Vitaliy M. » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:51 am

I think you would need to climb a lot longer in both ranges to compare. Seems to me as though Sierra has the best weather and rock available. But if you do want burly approaches to some awesome remote peaks, they are easy to find. I think if one wants more alpine challenge in Sierra, it is easy to get out in winter/early spring when things are more 'burly.' How was that east ridge of Russell in early spring (from the above photo)?

According to what I heard Cascades have real glaciers, less stable weather, harder approaches on average.

Personally I prefer to be around Sierra for now to concentrate on climbing, and do big burly approaches only by choice. Quality rock also sounds better. If I was moved closer to you however, I wouldn't mind at all. If one likes the mountains he could enjoy them wherever.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby SKI » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:13 am

Concerning approaches,

The thing is, other than that dastardly Manzanita- most of the Sierra is above alpine, or at least on the cusp of treeline. You may come across one or two avy debris-strewn cluster*%#$ passages, but other than that- it's talus and dirt.
The cascades have serious flipppin creek/river crossings. Trees are down EVERYWHERE on the "trail." Active glaciers mean freshly exposed and exfoliating rock abound.
You will almost always have your crampons on mountaineering boots here for the big objectives. In the Sierras, almost everything may be climbed in approach shoes at some point in the year.

The weather is nuts over the Cascades too. It's sunny and perfect in Leavenworth but its raining cats and dogs at Index?
Here, while youre paddling your canoe up Ross Lake on your way to a 15+mile approach, you can almost always count on rain, sleet, snow and fog at some point!

Your point is well written and with merit. But it seems like the crampons to rock shoe norm up here, combined with extreme weather, hazards and distance renders the Cascades perhaps more serious peaks? Could be? Could not be...
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby Vitaliy M. » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:59 pm

Well hope you will have a lot of fun up there! Seems like there is more objective danger so be safe.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby asmrz » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:10 pm

Me thinks that the answer might lie in how many NW climbers you find in the history (and today) of US high altitude exploration and new routes in the big mountains (Nepal, Pakistan etc). Those NW US ranges are much more suitable as a training ground for the big peaks and lightweight alpine expeditions then Sierra Nevada. If you compare rock climbing issues, Sierra wins hands down, not so if you include alpine climbing world. Be glad that you are having experience in both places. Cascades can only make you better all around climber. You can always come back to the beauty, gentleness and quality of our Sierra.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby mrchad9 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:07 pm

Neither is better than the other. I'm happy to be able to visit both.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby CClaude » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:24 pm

asmrz wrote:Me thinks that the answer might lie in how many NW climbers you find in the history (and today) of US high altitude exploration and new routes in the big mountains (Nepal, Pakistan etc). Those NW US ranges are much more suitable as a training ground for the big peaks and lightweight alpine expeditions then Sierra Nevada. If you compare rock climbing issues, Sierra wins hands down, not so if you include alpine climbing world. Be glad that you are having experience in both places. Cascades can only make you better all around climber. You can always come back to the beauty, gentleness and quality of our Sierra.


My personal opinion is that either one would make you one dimensional. Both have there strengths and weaknesses.


If you are starting out it is ones best interest to spend much time in both. The glaciers, involved descents,..... helps one develop a specific set of skills whereas the technical rock of the Sierras develops another. You can see individuals who did very well at translating the skills they developed in their respective ranges and applying them to other areas.

There is a whole crop of young alpinists coming out of Washington are definately making their marks. From Cali one can point to Steve Schnieder's route put up solo in atrocious weather in Patagonia (the second ascentionist had said his A4 rating was a total sandbag).

If one is experienced I find its just important to just get out. More you open your eyes to possibilities, the better off you are. I think being open to possibilities is the number one attribute,a nd that just comes with experiences, no matter where they come from.

But just the Pacific Northwest and Cali still makes you very one or two dimensional. I would say go spend time developing strong ice climbing skills in Canmore, since the pure ice climbing in both areas are pretty wimpy in comparison. I've been on a ED route in Peru with a guy who was a very experienced alpinist but the technical ice concerned him and when I brought him out onto WI5 for the first time it scared the cr#p out of him. Go to the desert and do perfect cracks, from tips to offwidths. Go to Yosemite or Zion with someone much better then you are and have your eyes opened.

The bigger your technical repitiore you have the better off you'll be. The more your eyes are open, the more the opportunities you will find.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby jordansahls » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:41 pm

I have never spent any time in the Sierras, I would like to, but It hasn't happened yet. I have, however, spent a lot of time in the Cascades. The Cascades are great for building "big mountain" skills. By that I mean they are a good place to learn how to suffer, deal with less than perfect conditions, and get your Phd in bushwacking. If you want to climb ice and clean granite, you can find it (if you look hard enough) but real technical climbing skills are easier to come by in places like Colorado and the Sierras.

Like others have said, each climbing range is different, which makes it hard to compare. However, I think there is a reason most skilled climbers coming out of Oregon and Washington eventually leave to places like California, Patagonia, Colorado, and Alaska.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby granjero » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:15 am

In the Sierras, almost everything may be climbed in approach shoes at some point in the year.


Well, it will be a glorious day indeed when I climb Positive Vibrations or the Harding Route(s) in my running shoes! Until then, MORE TRAINING!!!!

I never climbed/skied outside of the Sierra before I relocated to Chamonix for a season and skied/climbed more than a few TD+ routes on snow, rock and ice (and turned back on several ED ski routes, they ain't goin no where!). All the ski runs were solo. Understand some fluid dynamics and geology and glaciers make sense. In other words, if your playground has a decent slide, all is good! Train hard, be smart and rise to cloud eleven.

But really, to be at the top of your game as a Norte Americano you ideally:
learn to climb 5.12+ rock in the Sierra
learn to climb A4 in the Valley
learn to climb WI6/M10 in the Canadian Rockies
apply said skills in Zion, the Black Canyon, Squamish, and AK.
Then, you will be a true hardman!

...or just move to Chamonix/Courmayeur/Interlaken and avoid moving multiple times to acquire uber-skillz.

Sierras


Sierra is singular btw. Linguistics matter! ;)
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby CClaude » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:01 pm

granjero wrote:
In the Sierras, almost everything may be climbed in approach shoes at some point in the year.


........
But really, to be at the top of your game as a Norte Americano you ideally:
learn to climb 5.12+ rock in the Sierra
learn to climb A4 in the Valley
learn to climb WI6/M10 in the Canadian Rockies
apply said skills in Zion, the Black Canyon, Squamish, and AK.
Then, you will be a true hardman!

...or just move to Chamonix/Courmayeur/Interlaken and avoid moving multiple times to acquire uber-skillz.

Sierras


Sierra is singular btw. Linguistics matter! ;)


true hard man? top of your game??? You'd be a solid all around climber but hardly top of the game.

As for the "big mountain skills".... good skills to have but once you get used to thrashing through gnarly bush, dealing with extremely broken glaciers,.... its just what it is. Something that you do.... if you go at it long enough, or if you get corrupted early in your climbing career, you will learn that the difference between working a route at your roadside crag or working a route 3000ft off the ground, is the latter just has a better view (or atleast that is where I've gotten to....).
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby granjero » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:01 pm

CClaude wrote:
granjero wrote:
In the Sierras, almost everything may be climbed in approach shoes at some point in the year.


........
But really, to be at the top of your game as a Norte Americano you ideally:
learn to climb 5.12+ rock in the Sierra
learn to climb A4 in the Valley
learn to climb WI6/M10 in the Canadian Rockies
apply said skills in Zion, the Black Canyon, Squamish, and AK.
Then, you will be a true hardman!

...or just move to Chamonix/Courmayeur/Interlaken and avoid moving multiple times to acquire uber-skillz.

Sierras


Sierra is singular btw. Linguistics matter! ;)


true hard man? top of your game??? You'd be a solid all around climber but hardly top of the game.


Reading comprehension FAIL!!!!

Top of YOUR game does not mean top of THE game.

A reasonably athletic and intelligent individual with ample dedication could reach the goals I outlined and still have a non-professional athlete lifestyle (i.e., a real job that is not climbing).

And please, prove me wrong by example, but if one were to put up a route at 5.12- A3 M7 WI5 1400m in a remote location on Earth in good style, would that not be considered top of THE game? Man, CClaude, you must have some wicked high standards! :D

Image

And supposing one were to meet these goals, they certainly would be a solid all around climber, but I don't see how this would mean that one would NOT be at the top of their game? If one climbs at level X and is climbing at X-m rather than X-n where n is not infinitesimally small and m is, this IMHO would be considered near the top of their respective level.

I am missing something here?

Tell you what, all I'm gonna do is get higher than them...

*edit to add .gif
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby CClaude » Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:18 pm

I am talking about people who work fulltime with fulltime responsibilities. When Dr. Mike Sokoloff put up Parting Gift which I am expecting is currently the hardest trad route in Arizona he was a partner running the PICU unit (pediatric intensive care), AND was dealling with a newborn. I say currently because there are a few lines out there which people are starting to work on that appear to be much harder when they eventually get done.


What I am saying is eventually you get to a point where you see possibilities that should be tried, and not barriers to things that are not possible. The goals you outline ARE respectable, but thinking that way is limiting. Don't see it as a level to attain but as part of a journey (and sorry about making it sound new age'ish).

No matter what level you are climbing at, if you are being fullfilled and enjoying where you are along this journey; and not being a total #ss to others, then who cares, you are doing great.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby granjero » Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:08 am

CClaude wrote:I am talking about people who work fulltime with fulltime responsibilities.


I often find the accomplishments of folks like this to be far and away more impressive than by 'professional' climbers. If you are making it happen at home, on your sport's playing field, and at a legitimate job, that's 'teh sickness'! Talk about multitasking. I don't know how some people do it, honestly. I'm not married and am just starting my PhD and it is hard enough for me to be (or at least feel) athletically productive!

CClaude wrote:Don't see it as a level to attain but as part of a journey


Excellent insight. Some days just scraping up something far below your technical limit can be as mind-expanding and rewarding as breaking into new grades.

CClaude wrote:No matter what level you are climbing at, if you are being fullfilled and enjoying where you are along this journey; and not being a total #ss to others, then who cares, you are doing great.


Amen to that!
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:41 am

I lived and climbed in California for most of my live, until I was in my late 20s. I also lived in Washington state near Mount Baker for many years.

I would agree that the Cascades are a step "up" from the Sierras. Everything in the Cascades is certainly much more complicated than the Sierras. That's why I love the Sierras so much more than the Cascades. As a free-soloing hippy, the Sierras is as care-free as it gets. And I think that the Sierras are much more beautiful than the Cascades.

But the Cascades can be quite beautiful...
Image

I laughed when I read your comment about the approaches. That was one of my biggest gripes when living there. It made winter peak climbing almost impossible unless you had a week off.

Those god damn long approaches....
Image

Men used to be really burly. Consider the west ridge of Forbidden Peak? The first ascent party didn't have a road. The bush-whacked 10 miles to the peak, climbed the ridge, and bush-whacked back out -- in one day.
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Re: Cascades Better than the Sierra?

Postby SKI » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:45 am

A reasonably athletic and intelligent individual with ample dedication could reach the goals I outlined and still have a non-professional athlete lifestyle (i.e., a real job that is not climbing).



I can't say that i know ANYONE who climbs 5.12+, WI5, A4 who is a weekend warrior...

The point of my post was to highlight how much bigger things seem to be up here in the Cascades; despite the dimminutive size of the mountains contained within the region.

It feels like the Alps to me... but instead of a gondola to the top of the mountain, it's a 7k+ bushwack over several meandering miles through raging rivers and heavily glaciated terrain haha.

Excellent post SLR, I was hoping that you would chime in.
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